El Salvador suspends constitutional rights after the worst homicide record in the country's history

The Congress of The Savior decreed this Sunday an emergency regime to try to stop an “excessive increase” in murders, which has put the government’s security strategy in check with 76 murders in two days, a criminal record in the country’s recent history.

The government of Nayib Bukele asked Congress to decree said measure as a result of the “serious disturbances of public order” generated by the maras.

SIGHT: El Salvador suffers the most violent day in its recent history with 62 dead due to gang war

The measure was approved with the votes of 67 deputies out of 84 during an extraordinary plenary session called by the leader of the Legislative Assembly, Ernesto Castroat the request of the president Bukele.

The exception regime will enter into force after Bukele sign the decree approved in Congress and publish it in the Official Gazette.

The deputies endorsed the suspension of freedom of association, the right to defense and the inviolability of correspondence.

In addition, the prohibition of the intervention of telecommunications without judicial authorization was suspended and the period of administrative detention was extended to 15 days, when it is normally 72 hours.

THE MOST VIOLENT DAY IN RECENT HISTORY

The Savior recorded on Saturday the most violent day in its recent history with 62 murders in the midst of an escalation that began on Friday, as confirmed by the National Civil Police (PNC).

This weekend’s spike in murders attributed to the gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS13)claimed the lives of 76 people in two days, with 14 on Friday.

The closest figure to the 62 murders on Saturday is the 51 homicides in a single day recorded in August 2015, when the country experienced its deadliest year since the end of the civil war (1980-1992).

This scenario is a severe blow to the Bukele government, which attributes the accentuation of the drop in homicides in recent years to its Territorial Control Plan, a trend that began in 2016.

For the director of the Citizen Action organization, Eduardo Escobar, that the government had to request this measure “shows that its plan is not effective in stopping crime.”

The body of a man killed by suspected gang members is seen in Colón, La Libertad department, El Salvador, on March 26, 2022. (MARVIN RECINOS / AFP)
The body of a man killed by suspected gang members is seen in Colón, La Libertad department, El Salvador, on March 26, 2022. (MARVIN RECINOS / AFP)

“WAR AGAINST GANGS”

The wave of violence led the authorities to declare a “war on gangs”as did Bukele’s predecessor in government, former guerrilla commander Salvador Sánchez Cerén.

“We will not back down in this #GangWar, we will not rest until the criminals responsible for these events are captured and brought to justice”Police posted on their Twitter account.

This label of “war” has been adopted by government officials, such as the Minister of Security, Gustavo Villatoro.

The Police and the Army intensified patrols, as reported by the Government, on Saturday night throughout the territory to try to control the wave of murders.

The Security elements were deployed in different populous neighborhoods of the country, in bar areas and, according to information from the Police, four alleged leaders of the gang have been captured MS13accused of “ordering” the escalation of murders that the country is experiencing.

Most of the homicides registered on Saturday were perpetrated in the departments of La Libertad (12) and San Salvador (9), according to police data.

HRW MONITOR SITUATION

Researcher Juan Pappier, who is part of the Americas division of Human Rights Watch (HRW), said early this Sunday that the organization “monitors” with “concern” the increase in homicides.

“El Salvador: We are monitoring, with concern, the serious increase in homicides in the country. It is urgent that the government protect the population with sustainable measures that respect human rights,” Pappier posted on Twitter.

He pointed out that “security policy must always be within the rule of law.”

In November 2021, the country also saw a sudden spike in homicides that left more than 40 murders in three days.

In those days, President Bukele ruled on accusations that the sudden rise and fall of the murders of those days was related to an alleged fracture of a “truce” with the gangs.

Bukele, without going into details or providing evidence, previously attributed this rise in homicides to “dark forces that are working to return us to the past” and assured that “this government will not allow it.”

The United States told the Bukele government to hold negotiations with the gangs, for which it sanctioned two officials in December.

Analysts have indicated that some breakdown in the alleged negotiations would have generated previous increases in murders.

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